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The Benefits of Self-Publishing Your Book

It’s true that traditional publishing comes with a certain panache, a certain air of old-world legitimacy. But when it comes to publishing, the truth of the matter is that traditional book publishers can only publish so many books—and there are way, way more voices that have something important and worthy to say than there are slots at those publishing houses. Fortunately, thanks to the way self-publishing has exploded in the last decade or two, traditional publishing is no longer the only option for people who have a message they want to put out into the world. Self-publishing has emerged and grown so much that it is now nearly impossible to tell the difference between a traditionally published book with the force and expertise of a big publishing house behind it and a self-published book that the author and their team have created with their own blood, sweat, and tears.

In fact, there are benefits to going the self-publishing route, especially for aspiring authors in the business and technology space. When you traditionally publish a book, there are many elements of the book—such as the on-sale date, the cover design, and even the title—that you don’t have control over. But when you self-publish, even if you work with professional designers and editors, you are the one who signs off on every element of your finished book. In this article, we’ll explore how self-publishing grants you total control—and how this could be the difference that turns it into a bestseller.

Publishing Timeline

If you try to publish a nonfiction book with a traditional publisher, you would typically submit a book proposal to an agent, then once you get an agent—could take a year, could be never!— they shop your proposal around to publishers. If a publisher chooses to buy your book based on the proposal, they will likely give you a deadline by which you’ll need to submit some or all of your completed manuscript in order to hit a predetermined on-sale date. While this sequence of events may be ideal for an author who is writing full time, it is likely not feasible if you are an entrepreneur or a venture capitalist. These people are busy enough in their day-to-day gigs that imposing someone else’s publishing timeline on their already hectic businesses may simply be impossible.

If you choose to self-publish, on the other hand, there is no editor saying you need to have your manuscript completed by a certain date. (Well, if you’re working with a professional editor, there likely will be, but that’s merely to keep your book moving forward toward publication. It doesn’t make or break whether your book gets published.) Instead, you get to determine the timeline that works best for you that will help you produce the best book possible while continuing to run your already successful business. If this means taking a little longer at the drafting stage because something came up, fine. Or if it means speeding through revisions because you were able to dedicate uninterrupted time to the project, great. You get to work with your team to determine your ideal publication timeline.

Book Design & Layout 

If your first thought when it comes to book formatting is that a book is a book is a book, think again. While sometimes subtle, each and every book is uniquely formatted to give the reader the optimal reading experience. Maybe that means adding custom typography and illustrations to better transmit your narrative voice or changing the background colors and type size to really make your pages pop. Whatever it may be, it’s possible you have something specific in mind when you think about how you’d like your book to look. But if you go the traditional publishing route, you likely won’t have much say in the formatting of the inside of your book—or of the outside for that matter. The publisher will decide if they want to release your book in hardcover, paperback, e-book, or a combination of those depending on how they want to position it in the marketplace. With self-publishing, you can choose the exact formatting you’d like to use for your book, from whether you want to release physical books or e-books to the fonts, page sizes, colors, and more. So when you finally hold your book in your hands, it will look exactly the way you imagined it from the start.

Cover and Title

Even if it isn’t the very first thing you come up with (which would be the exception, not the norm), your book is going to have a working title while it’s being written and edited. The key word there, though, is working. With a traditional publisher, they have the final say on the title of your book. You can pitch titles and campaign for the one you want, but in the end, they are going to choose the one that they think will do the best job of enticing readers to pick up your book. The same goes for the cover design. You can contribute ideas for possible designs, but they will assign a designer to the project and have final approval on what your cover looks like.

But if you self-publish, no one decides what will go on your cover besides you. From the words to the colors to the images to the fonts and font sizes, you will have the final say on what your cover looks like. That said, it is still worth doing plenty of market research to make sure the choices you are making are going to attract readers. Your cover should tell readers what genre your book falls into just by looking at it, before they even read the title, let alone the cover copy. You don’t want the cover of your book about finance to read paranormal romance or historical mystery or food memoir at first glance. The same goes for your title and subtitle. They should be just intriguing enough to draw readers in and leave them with questions they want to be answered that prompt them to purchase the book. For an excellent example of a cover where the copy and design work together to tell you exactly what you’re getting in the book, check out the cover we created for Dancing with Giants by Mitchell A. Silk and Seth Tan.

Price

While this one sounds simple, there is actually more to the price of your book than meets the eye, especially when it comes to the differences between traditional and self-publishing. A traditional publishing contract will typically involve an advance (though that’s no longer guaranteed the way it used to be) and then royalties. That means that once the publisher makes back the amount they paid you as an advance, you will earn a certain percentage of every book sold thereafter. Royalty rates vary based on the book format, but typically fall around 15% for hardcovers, between 5% and 10% for paperbacks and around 25% for e-books and audiobooks, all based on the price for which the book is sold. So if your book is published in paperback and sold for $14.95, you would make roughly $1.50 per book.                                                  

When you self-publish, there are no royalties because there is no contract. There are expenses that you need to factor in that will technically come out of your total earnings on the book, but when all is said and done self-published authors typically earn up to 70% for each book sold. Looking at that same $14.95 paperback, that’s almost $10.50 per book, which is a substantial bit more. That said, there are a couple things to keep in mind. With self-publishing, there is no advance. If you are hoping to make money off of writing and selling your book alone, those profits will come purely from sales, sales for which there is no guarantee. You’ll need to put in the legwork in terms of marketing and spreading the word about your book. At the same time, you likely aren’t writing the book simply to sell it and make money from sales. Writing a book can help you grow your business, identifying you as an expert in your field while serving as a talking business card for peers, journalists and future clients—and any money you do earn from selling it is passive income added to your bottom line.

Publishing Rights

This is a big one, especially if you are already doing business in international markets or your platform attracts people from across the globe. When you sign a contract with a traditional publisher, they retain the rights to your book. That means they get to decide when, where and how many copies of your book get published. Say, for example, that you published a book and it was released in the US. A year or two later, you start doing business in South Africa and want to make the book available to readers there. If you published traditionally, that’s not your call. Likewise, many traditional publishing contracts will include rights to the audiobook, a huge and still growing market, yet they may simply decide not to produce your book in audio. When you self-publish, you have the rights to any and all formats of your book that you want to make available, in any format and any language in any country at any time.


 

If some or all of these benefits align with your vision of what writing and publishing a book will mean for you and your business, self-publishing is likely the way to go. But as we’ve also made clear, it’s still a lot of work, and you don’t have to go it alone. get in touch today!

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